Paddle Boarding in Cancun With 360 Surf School

Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) in Cancun is a relatively new phenomenon, but it's growing fast -- and for good reason. It's one of the few sports where you can go from a total beginner to a highly competent practitioner within a single outing. With any athletic ability, coupled with a reasonable sense of balance, most people progress quickly from feeling like they are walking on marbles, to gliding along with ease, and keeping a steady pace.

In fact, paddle boarding is so simple that the view and surrounding scenery quickly become much more the focus than the actual mechanics of controlling your board--and that's a good thing. This is why paddle boarding in Cancun is so rewarding. If done in the right place, at the right time of day, and with the right group, there is simply no better way to enjoy a combination of amazing landscapes, colorful fish, soaring birds and nature at its finest, all while enjoying the company of your friends and family.

Cancun's 360 Surf School offers its standard SUP tours just minutes from the heart of the main hotel zone, in a tucked-away mangrove region of the Nichupte Lagoon, which is sheltered from the open Caribbean Sea by the island of Cancun. It offers calm waters, mangrove tunnels and hidden pathways that only the experienced guides know how to navigate.

To maintain a feeling of calm and control, the company keeps its groups very small, so everyone has the attention and assistance they need to have a great day on the water. For beginners, a few minutes of one-on-one help is given to teach the basics, and soon, everyone is on their board and ready for fun. The pace is slow and relaxed -- it's always more about the journey than it is getting somewhere fast. In fact, it seems that the slower you go, the more you see.

And there is plenty to see! On a good day, the waters of Nichupte Lagoon are gin-clear, affording amazing views of stingrays, jack fish, barracuda, puffer fish, tarpon and even several sunken boats, most of which have been lost in a series of hurricanes that has struck the area in the last 20 years. The firm's employees, and other groups in the area, help to keep the area clean and litter-free and it really takes on the vibe of a natural aquarium, where you become part of the environment, rather feeling like an outsider gazing inside.

The 360 Surf School also offers SUP excursions in Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Isla Mujeres, by special appointment. Or for something even more athletic, they even offer surfing lessons and surf outings, with their "if you don't stand up, you don't pay" policy for beginners.

All-inclusive luxury just steps from Quinta Avenida

THE ROYAL Resort Playa del Carmen (Constituyentes between First Avenue and the beach) is the most upscale all-inclusive resort in the heart of Playa del Carmen.

With 518 rooms and a grandiose portico reminiscent of Cancún or even Las Vegas, it is by far the largest hotel so close to Quinta Avenida and the Playa del Carmen town square. The sand on the beach is great, the water is calm, and it’s one of the better beaches in the area. In fact, it’s the site of many weddings, which make for a fun distraction for the sun-worshippers that always inhabit the waterfront area.

THE ROYAL offers six restaurants, four bars, a massive pool, an ultra-luxe day spa, a temazcal sweat lodge, and a full fitness center, which offers daily spinning and pilates classes. Next door is a private beach club, which has become a popular day-tripping site for cruise passengers and trendy beach-goers.

Guests lounging poolside or beachside will enjoy butler services that include cleaning sunglasses, cold towel services to battle the heat, a choice of 20 varieties of suntan and sunscreen lotions, and the delivery of newspapers, magazines, and books in varied languages. THE ROYAL is among the first resorts in the region to offer online check-in 24 hours before arrival, allowing guests to choose their room from available options the day before they arrive.

Acanto Boutique Hotel better than ever following massive renovation

Acanto Boutique Hotel in Playa Del Carmen has completed a massive two-year renovation with an investment of more than $5 million, emerging as one of the premier condo hotel projects in all of the Riviera Maya. 

Acanto Rooftop
The renovation earned Acanto Boutique Hotel a spot in the "Great Hotels of the World Luxury Collection," a rare feat for hotels in the Playa del Carmen area. The hotel features 21 upscale rental suites, from one to three bedrooms, with refined amenities like marble floors, granite counter-tops, and plasma TVs. 

Each guest suite has a full kitchen, private outdoor terrace with sitting area and hammock. Shared amenities include a luxurious day spa, on-site bakery, rooftop hot-tubs and cookout gear. 

Acanto Boutique is nestled on a quiet street just a block from the beach and around the corner from Quinta Avenue, Playa del Carmen's famous pedestrian walkway, with hundreds of shops, bars, restaurants and other attractions, all within a short walk from the hotel. 

Though the hotel is not directly on the beach, guests have access to the Playa Del Carmen Beach Club, located just a block away.  


Top 10 Things to Do at the Moon Palace Resort

The Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort outside of Cancun has released an action-packed list of the Top 10 Things to Do while staying at this family friendly hotel, which has become one of the most beloved properties in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

1. Enjoy world-class entertainment Palace Resorts is known for hosting world-class performances by artists like Usher, Shakira, Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin and shows like Cirque Dreams, mentalist Ryan Oakes and comedians such as former Saturday Night Live Comedians including John Lovitz, Chris Kattan, and Tim Meadows.

2. Practice your surfing skills at the Flowrider ® double-wave simulator Challenge your surfing skills against friends and family. The Flowrider creates two lanes of perfect endless waves, pumping thousands of gallons of water over a riding surface, and provides hours of surfing excitement for all ages. Participants can drop in on their own unbroken wave, feel the power and acceleration, carve a turn, do maneuvers and cut back. While kids can bodyboard on the new Flowrider, the more advanced and adventurous guests can use the standup flowboards. 

3. Dance the night away at Noir night club Created by renowned French designer François Frossard, Noir is the newest addition at Moon Palace, a nightclub with a chic atmosphere where guests can unwind in style. At Noir guests can enjoy trendy and exclusive VIP areas designed with stylish comfort. Friendly bartenders, premium drinks, cutting edge music and the latest audio and lighting equipment, make Noir the ideal place for guests to dance the night away.  

4. Kiss a dolphin The Ultimate Dolphin Swim Experience at Dolphin Discovery offers an exciting way of learning and interacting with our dolphins. During this program, the first 15 minutes prior to entering the water is dedicated to an orientation about dolphins. The remaining 40 minutes will be in the water with one dolphin, during this time visitors will be allowed to perform various activities including the famous kiss.  

5. Enjoy a drink at the chic Sky Bar The well-known designer Frossard is introducing a sense of modern minimalism to the property’s bars, all featuring top-shelf libations. Sky Bar features a transitional ambiance that is ideal for both business and pleasure. Featuring a curved wall that creates a sense of privacy, the bar can entertain sports aficionados and nightlife enthusiasts. 

6. Visit the popular teens club, Wired A destination for teens unto itself, the lounge features everything the resort's young guests need to stay connected, feel at home, and enhance their stay. Teens are welcome to try their luck at the arcade and console video games, listen to a DJ spin the latest sounds, surf the web, watch their favorite television shows, and snack on delicious treats. This state-of-the-art and fully-equipped lounge is a vibrant haven for young adults seeking a great time away from mom and dad. 

7. The Playroom Moon Palace’s new kids club, “The Playroom,” is a dream come true for our royal mini guests. Complete with various game rooms, the new kids club has iPlayrooms for toddlers, a beauty salon perfect for girls to embrace their inner princess, a mini runway to practice their catwalk, a girly doll house, a kitchen, an Xbox room and a separate area filled with toys. “The Playroom” also has a theatre with comfy seating and concessions, where kids can mingle while watching movies. For the more active kiddos, there are two playgrounds, both inside and out. All children in the club are always under strict supervision by the property’s helpful staff. Anything and everything a kid can ever desire can be around in The Playroom. 

8. Feel pampered and try the pillow and aromatherapy menu As part of the all-inclusive experience, guests can choose from an elaborate, signature Pillow Menu including: Orthopedic, Lavender, Chamomile, Goose Feather, Hypo Allerginic, Water and Mint Lavender. Guests can also hand pick their favorite aromatherapy scents such as: Balance (coconut and verbena), Energizing (tangerine and vanilla), Revitalizing (eucalyptus and mint), and Relaxing (lavender). 

9. Take advantage of Resort Credit Guests who book a stay of five-nights or more can also take advantage of the most valuable vacation promotion on record - $1,500 Resort Credit, which can be used toward spa and beauty salon treatments, golf outings, romantic dinners, wedding packages, and off-site excursions and tours. If you do not use all of your credit, you can save them for your next visit or even gift them to a friend! 

10. Play golf on the Mexican Caribbean’s most prestigious golf course The Moon Spa & Golf Club is home to the only Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course in Cancun. Its dynamic layout challenges golfers to navigate through native vegetation as well as wetlands and strategically placed bunkers.

Video Highlights Top Events for 2014

A new video produced by the Mexican News Network highlights some of the best events planned for Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya during 2014.


Video Adventure: Cancun & Playa del Carmen

It's always good to have an idea of what the area is like where you're about to travel. Check out this great video for an overview of the Cancun and Playa del Carmen area.

Today's video of the day comes to us from Tripulu. It's a great introduction into the area and its many attractions, including beaches, towns, restaurants, nightlife and more.

Discover the Yucatan Through Video

Television network Televisa has just released a video highlighting many of the most amazing attractions and images of the Yucatan area. All of these attractions are reachable during a visit to Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya. Some of them are best enjoyed with an overnight stay, to avoid too much travel time on a single day.

ATVs and Snorkels in the Riviera Maya

No visit to the Riviera Maya is complete without a tour through the beach-side jungle and a swim through a freshwater lagoon, called a "cenote." Check out this video of a group of travelers experiencing some of the Playa del Carmen area's most unique tours, including a ATV ride through the tropical forest and a dip in Media Luna Cenote.


Video Tour of Playa del Carmen

Thinking about going to Playa del Carmen or the Riviera Maya, but not sure if it's the right vacation spot for you? Check out this video tour of Quinta Avenida, the famous Fifth Avenue of Playa del Carmen.

For a live view of your future vacation spot, check out these live webcams of Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya.

How the Locals Talk: Spanish of the Riviera Maya

When traveling to Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Tulum or the Riviera Maya, it's always nice to speak a little spanish -- and in particular, the kind of Spanish they speak around these parts. Below are some local references, names and other common phrases you may come across during your travels. If you want to fit in, try to use these words with your waiters, cab drivers and hotel employees. It's sure to earn you a smile.

Cenote: A rare geological feature of the Yucatán, acenote is a freshwater sinkhole formed when the limestone ground caves in and fills with water from underground rivers.

Colectivo: A sort of taxi-bus combination, a colectivo is a van or similar vehicle used for local transportation. It has semi-fixed routes and is cheaper than a taxi.

Costa Maya: The coastline south of the Riviera Maya (which officially ends at Tulum).

Federal: Used when referring to Highway 307, a federal highway.

Playa del Carmen beach

Ha: Mayan for “water.” You’ll see it used everywhere.

Mole: A chocolate-based sauce made with dozens of herbs and spices, used in traditional Mexican cooking.

Muelle: Spanish for “dock,” it’s commonly used when referring to the ferry landing, which is also called the “embarcadero.”

Nopales: Sliced cactus from the nopal tree, it’s used locally in breakfast juice and can be served grilled or sautéed with any meal of the day.

Palapa: Thatched palm used to make roofing in the Riviera Maya. The tight weave keeps out rain and has to be replaced every couple of years. The word is also used generically to refer to any structure that has a thatched-palm roof.

Pan dulce: Literally “sweet bread,” it’s used to describe a variety of delicious locally made breakfast pastries. For a quick start to your day, order a café con pan dulce.

Parada: Spanish for “bus stop.”

Playa: Meaning “beach” in Spanish, this is the short name used locally when referring to Playa del Carmen.

Playacar: A name created in 1992 to refer to the tourist development located just south of First Street and the ferry dock.

Propina: Spanish for “tip.” Make sure you check your bill to see if tip has already been added: propina incluida.

Quinta: Spanish for “fifth,” it’s the name used for Fifth Avenue, the main tourist strip in Playa del Carmen.

Riviera Maya: The name used to refer to the area from just south of Cancún to Tulum. The actual boundaries tend to change a little bit, depending on whom you talk to. The phrase was coined in the early 1990s and is sometimes said in English, “Mayan Riviera.”

Tacos al pastor: Pork tacos cooked on a vertical spit, seared with licking flames and served with pineapple slices.

Tiempo compartido: Spanish for “time share.” If a deal is too good to be true, like a Jeep rental for $20 a day, chances are it’s part of a tiempo compartido offer.

For more information and tips about traveling to the Riviera Maya, check out the newly released guidebook by Joshua Hinsdale.

Ajua Maya Restaurant Celebrates 10 Years in Playa del Carmen

Ajua Maya Playa del CarmenAjua Maya Restaurant celebrated 10 years in Playa del Carmen with a traditional celebration mixing Mayan, Mestizo and Mexican cuisine and customs on on May 21, 2011.

Jorge and Brenda Alfaro acquired Ajua Restaurant (now Ajua Maya) in Playa del Carmen in 2001. The restaurant specializes in Mayan, Mestizo, Mexican and a touch of Virginian cuisine; and now, ten years later, the Alfaros enjoy working with many of the same staff and wonderful Ajua friends who return each and every year to share their success.

"Immediately after the acquisition of Ajua, we worked hard to provide our customers with the highest quality ingredients and preparations available on the Riviera Maya," said Brenda Alfaro, the Virginian partner.

"We feel blessed," said Jorge Alfaro, the Mexican-Mayan side of the couple. "Those who experience our creative and inclusive restaurant style, convey to us that we are one of the best, if not the best, restaurant experiences they have ever had in their life. What a compliment."

The Alfaros attribute their restaurant’s success to the extraordinary Mayan staff they have worked with for 10 years. Brenda explained that the Maya infuse Ajua Maya with their noble heritage, including their traditional community culture, which ensures harmony in daily life and in work, free of negativity and full of the joy of working together as a family and a village.

Whale sharks swarming near the Riviera Maya

Whale shark, by National GeographicThe Washington Post is running a great article about the whale sharks new Isla Mujeres. Though the region has long been known for its whale sharks, especially in the waters to the north of the island, this year seems to be different, with many more sharks present in waters much closer to the island.

Excerpt from the story:

It's like a fishbowl full of whale sharks," said Robert Hueter, director of the shark research center at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla. "We are witnessing a spectacle of nature down there that we don't fully understand."

Hueter, Mexican biologist Rafael de la Parra and a group of other marine scientists are trying to make sense of the big shark reunion, an event dubbed the "afuera." The word means "outside" in Spanish, and it was the name de la Parra initially used to describe to the phenomenon.

Read the whole story >>

How to Stay Safe in the Riviera Maya

The beach of Playa del CarmenPlaya del Carmen is no longer a sleepy fishing village where everybody knows each other and nobody locks their doors. It is still a happy little town, though, where a lot of people know each other and not everyone locks their doors. Petty theft is the main problem, and tourists are advised to watch their belongings, lock their hotel rooms, and not leave valuables unattended on the beach or elsewhere.

For the most part, Playa is quite safe. It's best to not be on remote parts of the beach late at night, as incidents have been reported. Leave your jewels at home and, like anywhere else, don’t flash large amounts of cash or be too showy with expensive equipment or electronic gadgets. Use the hotel safe whenever possible and don't leave valuables in plain view in your hotel room or rental car.

Report suspicious activity at your hotel to the front desk and be alert of your surroundings. Men should carry their wallets in their front pockets on crowded streets, and women should ensure their bags are fully closed and not swinging freely.

There have been reports of drug running, gang activity, and associated crime and violence in the area. If you go looking for trouble, you’ll have a better chance of finding it. Visitors are strongly advised to keep their noses clean and to stay well away from any obvious trouble or precarious situations.

Don't travel into the destitute neighborhoods, especially at night. Don't associate with questionable individuals, and stay away from problem areas.

Travel Channel Celeb to Host Playa Food Festival

Playa del Carmen -- Travel Channel star and food pro Mark DeCarlo will team up with local chefs in the Riviera Maya to present the Taste of Playa food event.

DeCarlo, host of "Taste of America with Mark DeCarlo" will conduct a series of food demonstrations with local chefs highlighting the unique recipes of the Mexican Caribbean.The Taste of Playa event is a community-focused culinary celebration that highlights the creativity and diverse cultural influences of chefs throughout the Riviera Maya. Taste of Playa 2010 will take place on November 21, 2010, in Playa del Carmen’s Parque Fundadores.

The event is open to the public, with tickets and all-inclusive VIP passes available for sale on the official event website. Proceeds from the event will go to a food education program initiated by the Rotary Club in Playa del Carmen that will directly benefit the children and families of the Riviera Maya.

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